The main argument of this article is that most structure-oriented IR predictions about the future of Northeast Asia in the aftermath of the Cold War have been overwhelmingly pessimistic, thereby projecting a tragic regional order. They have failed to assess the progressive trends of regional interactions, mainly because their projections were blinded by the structure-oriented theoretical conjectures. My paper has three objectives: First, I attempt to empirically identify the diverging gap between the pessimistic predictions about the future of Northeast Asia made by the mainstream IR analysts and scholars during the post-Cold War era and the reality of the past 15 years, which has been relatively well-coordinated, cooperative, and surprisingly peaceful. I unpack the logical structure of these predictions and theoretically explain the reasons why there has been an increasing gap between the two. Second, I argue that conventional arguments about the future of Northeast Asia tend to overemphasize a few structural variables dictated by their theories, while underspecifying regional factors such as regional states' conscious efforts to manage the regional order. Lastly, I draw analytical implications that the actual choices made by state leaders of Northeast Asia must be the target of empirical examinations, not analytical assumptions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Safety Research
- Political Science and International Relations